More than 200,000 of Russia’s brightest and best have fled, removing their talents from the war economy. Russia is now considering emigration restrictions, while the UK is realising the opportunity at hand. By helping these Western-minded professionals build a new life, we starve Putin of resources. What's more, our own businesses thrive as Russian talent fills the skill gaps.
Russia sees IT skills loss as a war issue
Of course, the Kremlin has already gone through official channels to slam talk about restrictions as fake news. What's that Bismarck quote again: "Never believe anything until it has been officially denied"?
Russia knows its skilled people are a key resource to keep the economy functioning. As English is the language of IT the world over, IT professionals are particularly able to slot into jobs overseas. The Kremlin, however, wants to stop them, which is scary as dissent is already criminalised. Anyone who is openly against the war and trying to leave may find the FSB knocking on their door.
Opportunity for the UK
James Wallace-Dunlop of Immigration Consultancy J Dunlop & Co argues that welcoming these professionals to the UK would be a triple win for the UK and for the west
- Russian IT professionals tend to be very good indeed, a legacy from soviet days when a career in maths/sciences made it easier to get on with one's job and avoid risky political situations. They are an asset to whoever employs them.
- The UK has increasing shortages in the tech skills needed to maintain our position as the foremost European hub for FinTech, blockchain, and cloud computing.
- Denying Putin the skills, and foreign exchange generating capabilities, of Russians with highly marketable and internationally desirable expertise is a sensible move.
Facilitating the move
For all the reasons that Putin wants to stop Russian IT professionals leaving, the UK should be rolling out a red carpet. Some key measures are needed to facilitate this. We need to allow Russian immigrants to: .
- Apply for UK visas in neighbouring countries, so they don’t have to wait in Moscow, sitting ducks at the mercy of the FSB/KGB, while the applications are considered.
- Prove their English language skills in an interview with a visa officer, rather than forcing them to sit an English language test (test centres are full, causing delays)
Even without the changes, James Peters, President of Global Expansion observes:
“If a company doesn’t yet have a UK presence, we can set up a partnership that turbocharges their opening, and can sponsor the right global talent for their launch. The Skilled Worker visa which replaced Tier 2 is a big improvement. It works brilliantly for companies hiring Russian, or any other, talent.
There is no more 28 days advertising, no more quotas. US corporations keen to extract talent from Russia can get boots on the ground in London in under a month. It’s a great way to fill a skills gap”.